So You've Drilled Through Your Own Hand

By J.G. Pasterjak
Dec 10, 2022 | drilling, Column | Posted in Columns | From the June 2016 issue | Never miss an article

Congratulations! You’ve joined the elite club of people who have, through their own carelessness or inattention, drilled through their own hand while working on their car.

You know this because when you stopped drilling, the hand that was holding the drill dropped neatly to your side where you store it for future use, while the other hand–the hand you were using to support the back of the panel you were drilling through–mysteriously stayed in place. So did the drill itself, stuck as it was through the metal and your hand meat.

Drilling through your own hand can be a confusing and chaotic time. We’ve prepared this handy (Ha! Get it?) guide to assist you in the aftermath.

1. Confirm that you really drilled through your own hand. Upon drilling through your own hand, there will be several signs. The first will be disbelief and denial. “Surely that was someone else’s hand back there,” you will think, and possibly even say aloud, but it will soon become readily apparent that no one else is present. The humiliation is next, but it will only mask the physical pain for a few seconds, so savor it in its purest form while you can.

2. Find a scapegoat. Next to my shop is a donkey. I mean, he lives there, he doesn’t just stand there at random. It’s technically the neighbor’s donkey, but his… pen? Paddock? Donketorium? Whatever you call the area where a donkey lives is right across from the front of my shop.

So when his particular human isn’t around, he’s usually at the fence begging for donkey treats and keeping a watchful eye on my progress. As he is the perfect foil, whenever a mistake is made in my shop, the resulting crash, bang, pop, fizzle or scrape is usually followed by a loud “Dammit, donkey!” clearly indicating where fault actually lies. The overspray got on the windshield not because I am a sloppy masker, but because the donkey was silently judging me.

Upon hearing my cries, the donkey usually responds with a noise that sounds half like mocking laughter and half like derisive deflection. He’s wise to my schemes by now, but quickly shifting the blame from me to him lessens the psychic burden. Side note: For you city folk who have never heard a real donkey before, they sound exactly like your drunk friend doing an impression of a donkey.

3. Now you must act. First, forget about finishing this project tonight. In fact, any upcoming plans not directly related to wound care or gauze replacement are pretty much out the window. No, it’s time to summon help. For most of us, this will mean calling an ambulance. Hopefully your phone is actually on your person and not just slightly out of reach of your free hand. Drilling through your own hand somewhat limits your mobility, what with the drill bit tunneling through so much tissue and bone and pinning it to the back of the panel you were supporting. But no, really, not using a 2×4 was a good idea. Saved a lot of time, didn’t ya?

Anyway, it’s about now that you begin wishing there were two emergency numbers you could call: one for regular emergencies and one for really embarrassing ones. I’d be more than willing to spend a couple extra bucks toward my deductible if I knew I could expect a certain level of discretion from my rescue professionals.

Let’s face it, 911 dispatchers aren’t stupid, and they’ve seen and heard it all. When they say, “911, what is your emergency?” and you say, “I can’t really say,” they can tell just from the timbre of your voice that your genitals are hopelessly trapped in a pool vacuum fitting while the rest of you is casually nursing a poolside drink like nothing has happened. I’d be willing to bet that after 10 years on the job, a good 911 operator can determine the exact object irretrievably inserted in a caller’s butt based on the first 5 seconds of awkward stalling.

But summon help you must, and when the paramedics show up, there’s pretty much one course of action they’re going to take. They’re going to cut that precious panel–the one you so lovingly supported with your own flesh–around the drill so they can free your hand and deliver the whole mess to the hospital for proper separation.

You wanted to drill one simple hole, but because you didn’t take proper safety precautions, you ended up with a whole mess of sloppily chopped sheet metal to replace. Which reminds me to plug next month’s column: “So You’ve Welded Through Your Own Fingertip.”

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Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
10/4/16 3:00 p.m.

I put a deck screw through my finger once. I have it saved in a jar on my desk to remind me never to do it again.

Appleseed MegaDork
10/4/16 3:07 p.m.

Realize that into and through one's hand are significantly different things, especially if it's the later.

DanielCut Reader
10/4/16 3:10 p.m.

Can't you just reverse the drill?

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/4/16 3:15 p.m.
DanielCut wrote: Can't you just reverse the drill?

I'll admit that putting the drill in reverse and slowly backing it out would be my first instinct...although it might not be the medically safest thing to do.

SilverFleet UberDork
10/4/16 3:16 p.m.

You had me at Donketorium.

fasted58 UltimaDork
10/4/16 3:20 p.m.


What would Todd Orr do?

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/4/16 3:22 p.m.
SilverFleet wrote: You had me at Donketorium.

Is a really nice donkey enclosure called an ass palace?

Furious_E GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/4/16 3:37 p.m.

One of my best friend's dad used to be a contractor and it felt like every week one of his employees would shoot a nail through his hand with a nail gun. That may or may not have had anything to do with the stupendous amount of beer cans we used to find at his job sites.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/4/16 3:48 p.m.
Fueled by Caffeine wrote: I put a deck screw through my finger once. I have it saved in a jar on my desk to remind me never to do it again.

The screw or your finger?

BrokenYugo UltimaDork
10/4/16 4:07 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote:
DanielCut wrote: Can't you just reverse the drill?
I'll admit that putting the drill in reverse and slowly backing it out would be my first instinct...although it might not be the medically safest thing to do.

I'm not a doctor, but I don't think an impaled hand carries much risk of bleeding out. Might as well put that shock and adrenaline to use and yank it out before it starts hurting like hell.

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